August 2018 Conference

The Configurations of Empire working group met for its second annual conference at UNC-Chapel Hill this past August. Three Kings College London graduate students—Jamie Rakoczi, Rafael Lubner, and Christine Okoth (PhD)—convened with Rachel Warner, Abigail Lee, Emilio Taiveaho, Trisha Remetir, and Nicole Berland of  the Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC for two days of workshops and discussion.

The conference was split into 3 blocks whereby each member had 30-45 minutes to present their material, answer questions, and receive feedback from other working group members. Papers were pre-circulated in advance, giving participants time beforehand to provide detailed, constructive feedback for each participant. On the second day, Dr. Jennifer Ho of the Department of English and Comparative Literature (UNC-CH) delivered a keynote lecture on intimacy, narratives, and the transpacific, which transitioned into a discussion about contemporary formations of race and the future of critical race theory through foodways, ethnography, and Afro-Asian networks of solidarity.

In between seminars, participants passed the time by revisiting conversations about articles and monographs that were memorable to them from the year’s reading group. Participants also engaged in cultural activities in Durham and in Chapel Hill, through group dinners, a visit to John Akomfrah’s video installation Precarity over at the Nasher Museum, and a group screening of Crazy Rich Asians. The presentations and discussions over the whole weekend brought new ideas for next year’s focus, and affirmed the value of a trans-Atlantic experiment such as this.

The UNC-KCL Configurations of Empire Working Group is grateful to UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities continued support in its scholarly pursuits.